Testing TipsTests!

The mere word can strike fear in the hearts of students (and teachers for that matter). Some of them feel extreme pressure to perform. Others constantly fret about how to improve their scores. So, how do you prepare students for a test?

Here is some advice that teachers shared with us about how they help students improve performance on tests while, at the same time, minimizing performance anxiety.

  1. Get Help from Mom and Dad

    When parents know about upcoming tests, they’re more likely to make sure their children are prepared. Enlist parents to participate in the child’s testing schedule. For students in lower-level grades, perhaps send home a copy of their test schedule each week. You could even ask for a parent signature to confirm that they are aware of upcoming tests.

  2. Prepare Students to Take the Test

    Studying and reviewing for a test varies by subject and grade, but helping students know how to prepare for a test builds confidence.

    • Remind students to memorize information such as math formulas or historical dates, as those are likely test questions.
    • Encourage them to practice the types of problems that have been used in classwork or homework.
    • Help them see the value of rereading sections of science or literature for reinforcement.
    • For history and science, remind your students to review diagrams, charts, and maps, which may also be on the tests. A parent or sibling can help practice these, or the student can trace the main features of the illustration in the book and practice labeling it.
    • Some students benefit from knowing how to make and use study cards with terms on the front and definitions on the back. These can be used in the car travelling to and from sports practice or at the kitchen counter while dinner is prepared.

    Each student benefits from different methods of learning and studying, but giving specific strategies to try will prevent him from sitting with his nose in the book simply hoping to absorb the information on the page. A few minutes of daily, focused reinforcement prevents the need for hours of studying the night before a test.

  3. Time It Well

    When possible, give tests before lunch. Students remain more alert then and don’t have to combat post-meal drowsiness. Also, when administering more than one test a day, use different test formats. This is how it’s typically laid out in the Abeka curriculum. For example, don’t give problem-solving chemistry test on the same day as a problem-solving math test. This way, students can use different test-taking skills and avoid being exhausted by one particular format.

  4. Vary the Question Formats

    Challenge your students by introducing them to different formats of questions beginning in the lower grades. Students answer true-or-false, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, and short essay questions. This is one way to help develop higher-level thinking and prepare them for multiple question formats as they progress through upper-level grades and prepare for college.

  5. Give Clear Directions

    Make sure that students clearly understand the test directions to help reduce anxiety. Instruct students to read through all of the directions slowly, especially when there may be multiple steps to a question. Allow students to read through all of the directions before clarifying or answering any questions regarding the directions.

As you help students prepare for tests, keep in mind that tests are simply a way to measure each student’s progress. Helping them effectively learn and study will go a long way to increasing their retention and lessening their apprehension.